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Check your ego at the door, says Architecture for Humanity founder Cameron Sinclair

Check your ego at the door, says Architecture for Humanity founder Cameron Sinclair

Each year 25,000 people benefit directly from its building initiatives. It has 75 chapters in 25 countries and elicits the help of more than 4,650 volunteer design professionals. At a recent lecture in Auckland, founder of charitable organisation Architecture for Humanity Cameron Sinclair shared exactly how his organisation has grown from a one-man show to one with massive global outreach. 

“There are millions of ideas that could change the world, but unless you build them, it doesn’t matter...what’s needed is the implementation of the work,” he told the audience. 

“As far as I’m concerned, an architect is somebody who takes innovative solutions and builds them. If you don’t build, you’re not really an architect—and I know that’s not the legal definition.” 

Over the course of his presentation, Sinclair, who is also an International Architect in Residence at The University of Auckland, touched on the Christchurch rebuild, offering this piece of advice: 

“It’s the responsibility of architects, engineers and planners to collaborate and work together. Keep your ego checked and outside the door and begin to come out with some innovative solutions of ‘what does Christchurch want to be?’” 

But Sinclair’s focus on Christchurch was only brief, with the rest of the presentation focusing on his favourite examples of work undertaken by the organisation, including a very cool project by “activist architects” in Guatemala City. 

Guatemala City, he said, traditionally has no parks for kids to play in—something that prompted an urban planner, two architects and a city council member to take action. The group would meet secretly to determine how best to use under-utilised streets. Work would then be done to enact a law enabling them to change the use of the street and in the middle of the following night, working with youth groups, parts of streets would be have sport facilities spray-painted on them. The next day, the kids take ownership of their new recreation spaces. 

“Architecture isn’t just million dollar buildings,” said Sinclair. “These are two-thousand dollar interventions. “ 

He said that in the process of reclaiming the streets for parks, the Guatemalan Government has been forced to actually build real parks. 

Architecture for Humanity has done some mighty impressive work since it was founded in 1999 and its well worth watching the rest of Sinclair’s presentation in Auckland below:

Fast Forward: Cameron Sinclair - Founder and 'chief eternal optimist' (CEO) of Architecture for Humanity